Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) steps back pass in the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 25 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo
The Tennessee Titans have done an amazing job of keeping their secrets under wraps as they head into their first season with Mike Vrabel as head coach.
While the defense will have some subtle changes with Dean Pees taking over for the now retired Dick LeBeau, the main concepts of the 3-4 scheme remain, with some potentially better personnel brought in, especially in the secondary to help operate it.
The main thing that has been under wraps has been the offense and what types of changes are being made to accommodate quarterback Marcus Mariota within it. The basic concepts will be based on the Rams offense from a year ago that turned Jared Goff from first-year bust to second-year standout.
Los Angeles was able to accomplish that with Goff under the tutelage of new head coach Sean McVey and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, who is now has that role in Tennessee and gets to call plays, something he did not do last year with the Rams.
It probably won't look exactly like the Rams' model, because the Titans' staple in the passing game is still tight end Delanie Walker, meaning that even though the Tennessee will run more three-wide sets than last year (when they were last in the league in using that formation), using two tight-end sets should still be a prevalent part of the equation.
The Titans certainly did not show much in the preseason to tip their hand, playing Mariota and the first-team offense only seven series total. Even in the dress rehearsal game in Pittsburgh, the Titans looked out of sync and inconsistent with Mariota being finished for the day after a second-quarter interception. In showing very little in the preseason, the Titans have left all sorts of questions as to how dynamic will the offense be, and whether or not it will be as wide open as what the Rams put on the field last season.
Their season-opening opponent, the Miami Dolphins, apparently wanted to know more about the Titans offense badly enough that they claimed Titans sixth-round pick Luke Falk off waivers in the cuts to 53 and will carry four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster for Week 1.
And while the Dolphins can likely glean lots of info from Falk, they apparently won't be getting everything delivered to them.
"I give Matt LaFleur a lot of credit. I wanted to put everything in that we were going to use. He wanted to hold some stuff. I think he said he had been burnt in the past with cut downs," Vrabel said. "I said, 'OK, I'll defer to you on this one.' As it turns out, he was kind of right. There'll be some things that I'm sure Luke can give them. But then again, I am glad that Matt was adamant about holding some stuff until cutdown day. Like I said, I think he'd been burnt by some of that stuff in the past."
SERIES HISTORY: 37th regular-season meeting. Dolphins lead series, 20-16. In 36 previous meetings, each team has scored exactly 692 points against the other. The Titans have lost twice to Miami in the last three previous meetings. They lost embarrassingly, 38-10, in a home game that helped spell the end of Ken Whisenhunt as head coach. They lost last year in Miami, 16-10, losing on what appeared to be a blown call on a fumble return for a TD that somehow withstood replay.